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NIH to Fund Development of New Analytical Approaches for Metabolomics Data

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced that it has earmarked $1 million to fund research projects for the development of new bioinformatic approaches for the analysis of metabolomics data.

Although technologies such as mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) can effectively measure metabolites, "the sheer number of metabolites participating in metabolism at any given time makes analyzing metabolomics data challenging," according to the NIH. The metabolomics field also faces a number of other hurdles including ones related to the identification of molecules detected through untargeted metabolomics experiments, analysis of metabolite flux, quantitation of metabolites, and the integration of metabolomics analyses with other -omics and biological data.

Meanwhile, the NIH's Common Fund Metabolomics Program — which was launched in 2012 to facilitate metabolomics-focused biomedical research in the US — continues to yield new tools and technologies for studying metabolomics data. "However, in order to use these analytical tools effectively to address biomedical questions, support for extensive collaboration between biomedical researchers and bioinformaticians is needed," the NIH added.  

As such, the agency intends to commit $1 million in fiscal year 2017 to support six or seven projects that will foster collaboration between computational scientists, metabolomics experts, and biomedical researchers to develop, pilot, and validate novel bioinformatics approaches geared specifically for metabolomics data. 

Areas of interest to the NIH include improved methods of processing raw metabolomics data for compound identification from MS and NMR peaks/features; integration of metabolite data acquired across different metabolomics platforms; and novel data visualizations for studying relationships between diseases and metabolites.

Additional details about the funding opportunity can be found here.